The vulnerability John Wall has displayed over the last few years is to be commended.
The Clippers’ guard revealed to the world in a pretty matter-of-fact way that he’d contemplated suicide at one point or another over the last few years. He’d battled injury, been traded, lost his mom, and nearly lost a limb during that time, according to Wall’s most recent account of his struggles on ThePlayer’s Tribune, in which he explained exactly why his brain took him to the deep, dark depths that it did.
In short, he felt he had nothing. Nobody was there for him. It’d gotten to the point where even the thought of his children losing their father wasn’t enough to convince him he needed to stick around.
“The one thing I always held on to, in the darkest times, was the thought of my boys — just the little things, like wanting to be around for their first day of school, or their first vacation. Or wanting them to see their dad play in an NBA game for real, and not just on some highlights from back in the day. Those thoughts held me down during a lot of hard nights. But if I’m being honest, even the thought of being a father wasn’t enough for me to get help. That’s how depression lies to you. That devil on your shoulder is whispering to you, ‘Well, maybe they’d be better off without you here.'”
That hurts to read. It would hurt to read if it were anyone, but it especially hurts reading this from John Wall.
To so many Wizards fans, Wall wasn’t just a basketball player. He was a hero. He was an idol. A community pillar. He lifted the Wizards up from basketball’s basement into relevance with his own two shoulders.
There were also the many turkey drives and backpack giveaways he’d put together for the community. He never hesitated to reach out and help people. He even paid people’s rent during the pandemic while he was on the way out. So to know that this man who always seemed to be giving, giving, giving was pushed to the brink like that? Yeah, that hurts.
Thankfully, he’s still here. And it’s all because of six words, he said: “Yo! I need some f***ing help!”
That’s the message he sent a friend who then got him the help he needed. Those words are so important. And, at one point or another, we’ve all been there. Maybe not in a situation as dire, but we’ve been there.
Swallowing your pride is hard. Vulnerability is hard. But being open and honest about when you need help is essential, even for the strongest and most solid among us. Nobody is perfect. We all fall sometimes and we can’t get up. But, as Wall teaches us with this piece, being able to reach out to someone willing to lend a helping hand can literally save your life.
I’m grateful he did that and I’m grateful he’s finding the peace he needs through all the loss he’s endured. It sounds like he’s in a much better place and that’s what matters most.
The work isn’t done — it almost never is. The path back isn’t going to be an easy one. But, with help, he’ll get there. And we’ll be cheering him on every step of the way.